The more things change, the more they remain the same.
How fitting when applied to the Grateful Dead and the legions that have been their ‘family’ through-out the years. The basic entities remain the same — a public arena, the fans, the artists and their instruments. And VOILA! – a communion.
The organic formula is so simple — no hydraulic lifts, no spandex pants, no strobe lights — simply good music, the attitude of brotherhood and the desire to experience joy. I’ve always thought of Dead shows as calling ‘time out’ to the planet so that, for a few hours, we can all leave our worries behind and just enjoy ourselves. The lyrics are meaningful, the rhythm is pelvic, and we all become part of the grand design that is the Grateful Dead extended family.
The heart of that family is, of course, the musicians; yet there’s an inner core of people so closely aligned with the artists through all these years that I don’t think of the Grateful Dead as just those musicians onstage. There are men and women who’ve matured and children that have been born into the whirl of the Grateful Dead inner circle. Many have worked for none other than this single entity, coming out of the alternative lifestyle of the sixties. From the loose group at 710 Ashbury to the complexity of today’s hi-tech music industry, what lives on is a communal spirit — people working together for a common goal.
The family tree of the Grateful Dead would resemble a cypress, twisted by the winds of time and hanging on by its roots. The young guy loading the truck in ’65 is today an integral part of the operation. The newborn of 1970 now works in the office. Friends and relatives make their creative statements through the group and earn their keep through the scene. Through-out a quarter of a century, we’ve experienced the joyful evolution of family life — the unions, the births, the adventures of the traveling circus; and also the tragic loss of family members, who stay on in spirit.
This family embodies the essence of an all powerful spirit that was born in the Bay Area in the sixties — a sense of camaraderie, of hope for a more idealistic world. After all these years, this family continues to represent a positive alternative — they make it possible for some light to shine through. This book of photographs celebrates this unique Grateful Dead family.
Bill and his older son, David. The Grateful Dead were his favorite band, not just because of the music but also I think, because we embraced him into our family.
Mickey & I invited him to my birthday party at the ranch in the late 70’s. He told me we were the first people in Rock & Roll to invite him to their home. I wanted to make a joke and tell him that if he was nicer to people, he would get more invitations. Instead, I told him we considered him a friend and he was always welcome in our home anytime. As the years went by, we had many intimate holiday gatherings at his beautiful home and other adventures together as friends and family. Especially Egypt, where he came as our friend and brought key staff members to enjoy the fun. -Jerilyn June, 2015
Bill in his office. He was so important to the Grateful Dead, one year for his birthday, they gave him a new name, “Uncle Bobo”, which they announced from the stage, encouraging the fans to call him that from now on.
He hated it but the band loved to mess with him and they discovered information that led to this special prank.-Jerilyn
Photo Credits: Bill and David – Gene Anthony, Bill – Jim Marshall